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Ubuntwo

Updated: Range of Roystonea regia in South Florida

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Ubuntwo

A few years back I mapped native populations of Roystonea regia in Florida. Here's one with updated data:

royalrange.png.ec9141750d9b834b85582648db4b718e.png

Current native populations include Fakahatchee strand and surrounding hammocks, southern Picayune strand, Deep Lake strands, Collier-Seminole Royal Palm hammock, Corkscrew Swamp,  Johnson Mound, Seven Palm Lake, Paradise Key and surrounding hammocks, Palm hammocks in western Long Pine Key, and a small cluster of hammocks in Big Cypress.  Fakahatchee Strand has several thousand adult royal palms, some up to 100ft, and this populaton appears to be slowly expanding.

Some populations have been wiped out over the past couple centuries. Now-extirpated populations include those along Biscayne Bay, the Ten Thousand Islands, Mahogany Hammock, and along the St. Johns River. Populations in the Everglades have also shrank. This reduction has been attributed to extreme cold (1890s), strong hurricanes (the early to mid 20th century was especially brutal with storm surge finishing off all but one population in coastal SWFL), the nursery trade, clear-cutting, and development. I also suggest reduced water levels in the Everglades may be to blame for the dwindling populations there - the royal is a water loving palm.

Royals are naturalizing readily across south Florida. In urban parks like Matheson Hammock and Deering Estate, royals are abundant. Banks of the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee rivers also have thriving populations. There is a growing population at Emerson Point Preserve.

 

Early 20th century habitat photos:

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Habitat photos of my own in the Fakahatchee:

1604448948_Wildroyals-Imgur(1).thumb.jpg.fa0adc4b770d6459baa5b40cb3756f07.jpg217742280_Wildroyals-Imgur.thumb.jpg.6c360383dc057414cc3104f9fd6b02ea.jpg

Naturalizing along the St. Lucie River:

360605467_Wildroyals-Imgur(3).thumb.jpg.dd75b66644ef9017564e24b550fb9c48.jpg

Wild royals - Imgur (2).jpg

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Mr.SamuraiSword

Great shots!  Theres some on the south side of Lake Okeochobee that appear to be natural, some quite tall if I remember correctly, some folks brought up photos and such of them on here a while back.  I witnessed some in Solana and Eastern Punta Gorda all over wooded areas some near sparsely placed residences, naturalizing everywhere though some of the palms were in the 60+ft range despite being in seemingly "wild" areas away from residences, and surrounded by other seemingly old plant growth some of these were practically in the middle of nowhere.  At the very least these are naturalized and have been naturalizing for a long while, though with the many mature examples I wonder...

Near the highway

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Random wooded area

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near railroad tracks in the middle of nowhere

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Random smaller ones 

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By a house, though considering the odd planting spot and it being quite old, I wonder if it was there beforehand.

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Probably the most impressive grouping of these "naturalizing or wild" royals.  Despite being near a cleared property, with so many royals in the behind wooded area, all of different sizes and sporadic placements plus thick wooded undergrowth I have no doubt they weren't planted.

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Edited by Mr.SamuraiSword
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ruskinPalms

I always love this discussion about royals in Florida. I think they are native by the definition that humans did not introduce them to the peninsula. I think they have and will grow in favorable areas around the peninsula erratically over the years based on how cold an epoch is. It has overall been warmer lately so they are spreading in favorable areas. 

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ruskinPalms

They sprout up all over Bradenton west of I-75 any.

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Ubuntwo
18 hours ago, ruskinPalms said:

I always love this discussion about royals in Florida. I think they are native by the definition that humans did not introduce them to the peninsula. I think they have and will grow in favorable areas around the peninsula erratically over the years based on how cold an epoch is. It has overall been warmer lately so they are spreading in favorable areas. 

It has been suggested that royals first arrived by water. The fruits and seeds float, showing viability after weeks on water. The soak may also prime them for germination. This is the main way they propagate through strand swamps, after all. Birds and the Calusa natives doubtlessly played a part too.

Isolated populations are kickstarted by birds and pulse with climatic cycles. The 18th century was warmer allowing palms to creep into central Florida. In contrast the bitter cold of the 1890s killed populations as far south as the Everglades. The Fakahatchee is the 'lifeblood' of Florida's native royals with at least 15,000 adult palms. However they arrived, they are well at home now...

IMG_3661.thumb.jpg.06356a24de2e9c44f1fc2a8732557312.jpg 

F90C4BE5-3DCE-4316-BC8D-5F77349E86C1.thumb.jpg.ba4c03840e2fe3bdcebabbb680ff533f.jpg

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